Each year on a revolving basis, one of the three Great Neck Park District (GNPD) commissioner positions is up for a vote. The commissioner seat up for election on Tuesday, Dec. 13, is being contested. Neil Leiberman will be running against incumbent Frank Cilluffo.
Read the statements provided by each candidate to learn more about their experience.
The election for the three-year term will be held from 1 to 9 p.m. For those residents who typically vote at E.M. Baker School, the new location for polling place #2 is Great Neck House. For more information, call 516-482-0355.
Frank Cilluffo, the current elected Great Neck Park District commissioner, is a 15-year resident of Great Neck. He is a retired New York City police officer and police-academy graduate with a degree in information technology. During his tenure on the police force, as well as being a patrolman and crime-scene investigator, he was the community-affairs organizer/liaison and public-safety director in the borough of Brooklyn.
Cilluffo has guarded two U.S. Presidents as well as many foreign dignitaries during their visits to New York while with the New York Police Department (NYPD). He served on the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) and Columbian Association as an elected board member. In addition to the 24/7 job required by all parks commissioners, he donates his time to coaching in the Great Neck hockey programs for both able and disabled youth. He serves on the Parkwood Rink Advisory Committee and the Board of Safe Sports, focusing on safety and anti-bullying programs. Cilluffo is very involved with GNPD tennis clubs and groups. His focus is to promote park safety, valuable sports programs, senior/retiree events, bike-path development, weekly farmers markets, garden clubs and green-space revitalization.
Cilluffo is married to Lisa, and the couple has a 13-year-old daughter, Francesca, who attends the Great Neck Public Schools.
For the past 25 years, Cilluffo has dedicated himself to public service and community development. He is running for parks commissioner with the objective of making “Great Neck parks even greater.” His major focus has been to improve the facilities, youth sports, and health and wellness community programs associated with the Park District, and to further develop the unused green space throughout the town, specifically for community gardens, bike paths and historical preservation.
He is addressing senior events to promote participation by the Great Neck senior community within the GNPD. He is focused on continuing and improving the senior exercise and health programs and extending pool hours with emphasis on value for the cherished senior adult community. Cilluffo and his wife are affiliated with the National Arbor Society, which will keep Great Neck on the map for its “green” beauty. He has, with the other commissioners, implemented a “smart” organic growth plan for grounds, sports fields and facilities maintenance, and programs to promote a nontoxic parks environment.
Cilluffo will continue to focus on “partnerships” for parks, pool facility, PAL, Little League, GN Skating Club, Garden Club, etc., to develop and improve joint programs that will promote greater community support and involvement in Great Neck’s neighborhood parks with new emphasis on expanding community volunteer efforts through local temples, synagogues, churches, schools and law enforcement.
As commissioner, Cilluffo has provided wise counsel, fiscal responsibility and has shown good judgment to make our community parks and recreation facilities a greater place. He has a proven record of success in community affairs and a track record of implementing successful programs for our parks. He initiated utilizing existing funding and current tax structure to address the needs of the parks and recreation department. Cilluffo kept his first priority promise to improve the safety and security at all Great Neck parks. He will work hard to continue the vibrant atmosphere of our parks system.
For more information, visit www.frankforcommissioner.com or his Facebook page.
—Submitted by Frank Cilluffo
Neil Leiberman earned his BBA in industrial psychology from CUNY and three master’s degrees in education, health and guidance from Brooklyn College. For 38 years, he worked in the New York City public schools, including 20 years as a guidance counselor, and was named NYC Guidance Counselor of the Year. He has been a resident of the Great Neck Park District for 30 years, and has two sons, both graduates of Great Neck Public Schools. He answered questions about why he’s running and what changes he will make.
Why do you want this position?
“I am running because I am passionate about our parks—I want to preserve what we have, which is precious and irreplaceable. Our parks contribute to our health, well-being, quality of life and spirit of our community. Many of my ideas over the years have been implemented, such as recycling, family programs, neighborhood park programs and Wi-Fi at Parkwood.”
What challenges does the Park District face? “To maximize what we do with limited tax dollars, finding the balance between user fees and nontax revenues that will preserve our facilities and programs, and responds to changing needs of a changing community. Also, how to expand commuter parking.”
What will you do if you win? “I will work to improve programming that serves a diverse and changing community, such as more wellness programs like Pilates at Parkwood, sunrise yoga at Steppingstone, tai chi on the Village Green; more nighttime poolside dances and more programming in neighborhood parks.
“If elected, I would support the acquisition of Kings Point tennis facility as a teen and recreation center. I want more teen programs, like inviting teen bands to play at the Village Green before movie night and more collaboration with Levels to offer performance venues.
“I want to work with our school and library districts and the Great Neck Arts Center to offer book carts and storytime as well as host an art show at Parkwood, and give young performers and creators more opportunities to showcase their work.
“The Park District should be the model for green initiatives. Working with North Hempstead, we can significantly expand our recycling program. We should implement eco-friendly energy alternatives wherever possible, such as green roofs, solar panels and white roofs, taking advantage of LIPA NYPA grants.”
What are your qualifications? “I draw on my training in industrial psychology and as a guidance counselor conducting conflict resolution and parenting workshops, as well as my master’s in health and background teaching phys ed, which I would apply to recreation and wellness programs. I have extensive education in finance, management and accounting. I also bring private sector experience organizing tennis and ski programs and networking events. I would use my people skills to work with staff, and listen and advocate on behalf of residents.
“I have been engaged in the parks for 30 years, raised two boys in Great Neck and fully appreciate what the parks had to offer, such as swimming, hockey, sailing and kayaking, tennis, cross-country skiing and cultural programs year-round.
“For more than two decades, I have been engaged in park meetings, attending budget workshops and serving on advisory committees. This is the only elected office I have ever sought, because I am so committed to keeping our parks the best they can be and am the strongest representative for constituents to ensure fiscal responsibility.”
—Submitted by Neil Leiberman